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Adding intelligence to networks

Software from Bridgewater being introduced next week lets ISPs offer a variety of services depending on customer requirements.

Bridgewater Systems is among a growing number of internetworking software players jumping into a new market for providing tools to allow ISPs (Internet service providers) to offer diverse services.

The recently formed company, based in Kanata, Ontario, will debut a set of tools next week called WideSpan that allow access providers to differentiate the types of services they offer to customers, whether they provide outsourcing or simply bandwidth.

The debut of WideSpan underscores a theme that will be prevalent at next month's Networld+Interop conference in Atlanta. A number of entrenched vendors, such as Cisco Systems, as well as recently formed players like Bridgewater, are going after this niche, looking to give providers software that will allow them to provide distinct capabilities in a crowded marketplace.

The WideSpan software includes Internet-based servers, service controls for user profiles, and systems management utilities. The package allows an access provider, such as a regional ISP, to offer different classes of service depending on customer requirements, including virtual private network (VPN) capabilities. The software also includes a billing system that can charge a user by time or bandwidth used.

Bridgewater officials said they are trying to take the concepts of voice networks and apply them to the data market. "We aren't reinventing any great new wheel here," said Doug Somers, president and CEO of Bridgewater.

Bridgewater is an affiliate of Newbridge Networks, an internetworking hardware player that has spawned a series of start-ups comprised of former executives. Newbridge has a one-third stake in Bridgewater.

The WideSpan tool set will enter customer trials next month with general availability targeted for the end of the year. Pricing will be based on the number of clients and servers taking advantage of the software, with costs starting at approximately $15 per subscriber.